Shadow banning is an action of blocking users from a platform without their knowledge.
Usually, this is done by making their posts and comments no longer visible to others but the shadow-banned users themselves.
And this time, rumors spread that YouTube's biggest individual creator Felix Kjellberg experienced strange issues surrounding his PewDiePie channel.
Viewers and fans said that when they attempted to search 'PewDiePie' on YouTube, Kjellberg's channel would not appear, when some saw that the top results showed PewDiePie's videos that were more than a year old.
Kjellberg himself posted on the community tab of his channel, stating that his latest video apparently wasn’t going to people’s subscription boxes.
YouTube tried to clarify the issue by posting a tweet:
YouTube doesn't shadowban channels. It’s possible the video was flagged by our systems as potentially violative & needs to be reviewed first before it shows up in search, etc. Note that reviews are taking longer since we have limited teams due to COVID-19: https://t.co/f25cOgmwRV
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) October 22, 2020
YouTube users speculated that YouTube is conducting shadow banning practice on PewDiePie, perhaps in an strategy by Kjellberg's biggest rival on the platform.
At this time, T-Series has around 50 million subscriber more than PewDiePie.
There were also rumors about YouTube in shadow banning PewDiePie in order to bury Kjellberg due to his frequent anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi imagery.
The streaming giant said that it doesn't shadow ban PewDiewPie or any other channels.
The company explained that the possible cause was issues on its search feature. The feature that is influenced by its flagging system, may have saw some of PewDiePie's video to be violative and needed to be reviewed first before showing up on its search.
YouTube noted that due to the 'COVID-19' coronavirus pandemic, the issues weren't quickly addressed "since we have limited teams."
YouTube has in fact posted a video back in March to announced some changes to its platform due to the crisis.
Speaking to Polygon, a YouTube representative said that:
Felix Kjellberg had for several times said that he would one day stop creating videos for YouTube, and maybe shifting to other platforms, or even stop his vlogging activities altogether.
But until this time, there is no sign of him slowing down.
And with that, there is nothing that could stop him from doing what he does best, unless YouTube is trying to move his viewers' attention elsewhere.
YouTube is also known for its frequent glitches.
Sometimes users can see inconsistent notifications, YouTube in automatically subscribing users to channels they never heard of, and sometimes, issues on its search feature.
While these can happen from time to time, having them all to happen all at once led to news channels and commentators to speculate Kjellberg being shadow banned from the platform.
As of October 22, some of the issues appear to have been resolved, with PewDiePie's most recent videos to start appearing on YouTube's top results.
At this time, while the search portion of the channel issues seem to be resolved, YouTube hasn’t confirmed that all of the problems have been addressed.
Not long before this, Kjellberg alleged that his videos had been banned from China.